Less than a week to go to have your forestry conversation!
Remember the controversy earlier in the year around the Government’s plans to sell off the public forest estate? Widespread public outrage and several national and local campaigns saw them swiftly abandoned less than 3 weeks into the public consultation.
So you would be forgiven for thinking that England’s woods are now safe. But the debate has been continuing just as ferociously as ever and the Trust’s particular concerns about ancient woodland – the UK’s richest (and rarest) terrestrial habitat for wildlife, which can form a direct link back to the original wildwood formed after the last Ice Age – are still very much live. In fact 85% of of what little remains of the UK’s ancient woodland still has no legal protective designation and the Trust is currently fighting 400 cases where ancient woods are at risk of destruction by development.
The next stage of the debate about England’s woods is underway.
An Independent Panel for Forestry, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool has been set up with 11 individual experts as members including Sue Holden who is also Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust. The Panel has a remit to look into all aspects of forestry as well as the estate’s future and will make recommendations on forest policy to Government.
Right now everyone has the opportunity to influence those recommendations through an 8 week ‘call for views’ period.
England’s woods need everyone who values them to contribute to this! The Panel is open to all ideas and members have shown that they are ready to listen – but this limited timeframe must close on 31st July.
Hundreds of thousands of people spoke up for their woods when they heard about the Government’s sale plans – in the brief but intense few weeks of our own campaign which ran during the public consultation period, over 165,000 people signed our petition demanding protection for woods, restored ancient woodland and secured access to public forests. You might feel like you’ve already said your piece, but we urge you to take this chance to make doubly sure that you are listened to. Woods and trees are worth repeating yourself for.
How can you help people get involved?
This is the only designated space for the public to speak up for woods and trees directly to the Panel. It’s vital that we all work together to get as many views as possible to them – please help us spread the word to all your supporters and friends.
To make it simple for people to respond to the Panel’s call, we’ve set up an electronic form so people can send their views, experiences and ideas direct to the Panel: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/panel. All views are welcome and the Panel is particularly keen to hear your answers to 5 short questions. There are other gateways that can take you to the Panel, for example membership and supporter groups like the Ramblers, National Trust and Save our Woods are also encouraging people to speak up too, amongst others.
What does the Woodland Trust want from the Panel?
The Trust’s priority as a woodland conservation charity is to ensure the Panel addresses these three areas:
Protect, restore and create more woodland
These are defined below:
- Protect – We want loopholes in protection measures that affect all woods closed
- Restore – Planted ancient woodland sites damaged by conifer must be returned to their native ancient glory
- Create – We must plant more woods, in fact double the current rate of native woodland cover, to gain the full benefits for wildlife and people
More detail about these 3 aims and the conservation research and evidence behind them can be found on the main woodlandtrust.org.uk/panel page.
We also set a challenge to the Panel and to Government when this next stage was announced, with a six-point test to ensure the Panel is both accountable and effective.
If you would like to work with us to help us reach even more people please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
Tweet for the trees!
We’re using the Twitter hash tag #speakup when spreading the word to our Twitter followers – are you one? You can also send an automatic tweet once you have taken action to encourage you own followers to join you!